As early as the first song here, it’s clear that if Odin (or Amon Amarth singer Johan Hegg, either is good) needs a Viking army tonight, then there are a couple of thousand Black Country folk who are more than up for it.

You see, the lights go on in “Guardians Of Asgaard” and when they do, they reveal as many fists in the air as your average Saxon concert.

But if denim and leather bought us all together then, tonight it’s a longship.
Because…..I was going to say “quietly” here but that doesn’t fit given that the five-piece work in bombast and noise….but Amon Amarth are undoubtedly becoming one of the finest heavy metal bands around. If you saw them with Machine Head last Autumn then you’ll know who closed the show but I’m willing to bet that you also know who headlined, and what happened here is a 90-minute study as to why.

It boils down to this: the Swedes are seriously good. They play ‘Raven’s Fight” and there’s a twin solo that is pure Maiden, but you can’t call them an Irons clone because by “Deceiver Of The Gods” towards the end of the set, when a fella appears with a shield, ready for battle, they are a thrash band.

And then, you have to sprinkle that in with the fact they are larger than life, too. Not least Hegg is massive, but this is a spectacle. It’s an arena show in a venue that’s bigger than a club but not an enormo-dome, but everything here – from the inflatables to the riffs, to the hooks is huge.

There are some highlights along the way. The title track of the last record “Great Heathen Army”, “Heidrun” and “The Pursuit Of Vikings” are among them, but “Put Your Back Into The Oar” is the sight to end them all. How you explain to anyone else that you saw hundreds of people sitting down and basically do a modified “row row row your boat” because they are commanded to, is beyond me, but by this point in the set, Amarth conquered and the flag is in the ground.

“Destroyer Of The Universe” even veers into power metal waters as Olavi Mikkonen dishes out riff after riff, but “The Berserker At Stamford Bridge” is as heavy as they get these days as if to prove they still can.

“First Kill” is blistering, and “Raise Your Horns” – which I guess we have to call ‘the customary set closer” these days? – sees Viking horns toasted to the fans.

That leaves just one. And “Twilight Of The Thundergod” sees the giant dragon appear at the back of the stage to reek all kinds of havoc – he’s defeated with a mallet so if anyone is keeping score it’s metal 1 dragon 0.

That one song is a decent summary in microcosm of what has happened here. This is a heavy metal show unlike any other yet wonderfully familiar. Amon Amarth are exceptional at what they do.

When I first reviewed them back in 2015 I remarked: “Something else is going on here”. It was obvious then that Amon Amarth were going to transcend boundaries, and it’s equally clear that the obvious old guard won’t be around forever (although we doubtless said that in 2015 too….) and although they’ve been together ver 30 years themselves, Amon Amarth are as well positioned as anyone to be metals longest serving overnight sensations.

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